Special Needs

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Summer Camps for Kids with Special Needs in the NYC area

It's tough to find the right summer camp for any kid. But if your child has special needs, like autism or ADHD, sensory-motor challenges, social anxiety, or learning differences, choosing a program can be especially nerve-racking: we want our kids to enjoy a traditional summer-camp experience, complete with swimming and lanyards and new friendships, while also receiving the kind of individual attention they need. Children with special needs often shun sports or swimming, get spooked by new activities, large groups, field trips, and other breaks in routine, and are prone to meltdowns when exposed to crowds and sensory overload. They also may need careful supervision to make sure they are being safe and playing well with their peers. Please consult the individual camps to see what kinds of needs they support and be aware that many require an interview to make sure your child is the right fit for their program.

Camps outside of New York City and on Staten Island provide bussing, so don't be discouraged by the seemingly far-flung locations: it can be especially therapeutic for kids to get out of the city for the summer. While most of these camps cater exclusively to special-needs children, other traditional summer camps often offer inclusion programs for those with mild special needs (a few are mentioned below). Please consult our Summer Camp Guide for NYC Kids for a list of our favorite summer camps across the city to see if there are any that might work for your child.
 

Best Allergen-Friendly Bakeries in Westchester

While the words gluten-free, nut-free, vegan and dairy-free and have long been associated with below-average offerings, this list proves safe-for-everyone snacks don't have to be tasteless. Whether it’s you, your little ones or last-minute house guests, feel free to indulge in allergen-conscious treats from these dietary-restriction-friendly bakers. After all, the simple pleasure of a baked cookie or cupcake should be enjoyed by everyone.

Here are six Westchester bakeries that will cater to your allergies and food preferences, doctor-recommended or not. Check out our Restaurant Guide for more kid-friendly places to eat, and sign up for our FREE newsletters to stay up to date for all things family-friendly in Westchester and the Lower Hudson Valley. 

Sensory Savvy Snacks Help Kids Do Better in School

What kids eat is very important and having the right snack can actually improve a child's ability to learn. Our school occupational therapy consultant, Casey Halper, put together a list of sensory smart snacks just in time for back to school. That means that they are snacks that help kids stay alert and focused in school without making them hyper and restless. These are great snack ideas for children in school, but would be equally great snack choices for toddlers too. Some of the themes for healthy sensory snacks are:

  • Crunchy and chewy foods help make kids more alert by engaging their senses.
  • Sipping or sucking can help organize and calm children.
  • And of course fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and calcium rich foods make them healthy overall.

Try These Sensory Smart Snacks:

20 Classic Educational OT Toys To Help Children Prepare for School

Last week there was an article in the NY Times, “Watch How You Hold That Crayon,” about OT and handwriting. In the article Anthony DiCarlo, a Principal stated, “In the last five years, I’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of kids who don’t have the strength in their hands to wield scissors or do arts and crafts projects, which in turn prepares them for writing."

He goes on to say that while many kids head back to school with accomplishments like music, yoga and sports classes, they may not have logged enough time in open-ended play. “I’m all for academic rigor,” he said, “but these days I tell parents that letting their child mold clay, play in the sand or build with Play-Doh builds important school-readiness skills, too.”

Activities in Central Connecticut for Children with Special Needs

Many kids’ schedules are packed with extracurriculars, but for children with special needs, it can be challenging to find programs they can participate in fully. We've rounded up some adapted classes and activities in the Hartford and New Haven areas that accommodate a variety of learning styles, so that kids with special needs—be they physical, social, or emotional—can partake in the same enriching fun as their peers.

Long Island Children’s Museum's Sensory-Friendly Performances for Autism Awareness Month

It’s no secret that Long Island is a great place to raise kids. And one of my family’s favorite outings is to our sponsor, the Long Island Children’s Museum. Not only does it have plenty of educational and fun activities (my kids love the Bubbles area, ClimbIt and Communication Station, to name just a few), but the museum also plays host to many entertaining performances the entire family can enjoy. LICM prides itself on being a place where all kids can learn and play.

With that in mind, Long Island Children’s Museum is kicking off Autism Awareness Month with sensory-friendly performances of the Experiential Theater Company’s The Adventures of Perseus, with two evening shows on Wednesday, April 1 and Thursday, April 2 (World Autism Day) reserved exclusively for families with children on the autism spectrum or with other sensory sensitivities.

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